PC George poses latest challenge to UDF govt in Kerala

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 27, 2015 Published on March 27, 2015

Sounding the bugle: Kerala government Chief Whip PC George after meeting Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. - C RATHEESH KUMAR

Chief Whip in all-out war with State Finance Minister KM Mani

The ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala may have just managed to buy peace with maverick Chief Whip PC George.

After being disowned overnight by his party — UDF constituent Kerala Congress (M) — George has promised Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that he will not do anything to rock the fragile boat just yet.

And there tags the fascinating story of brinkmanship of a man who whips up politics by design or muddle and guides into a course of his choice.

The latest controversy was triggered by George when he sought the resignation of his party leader and Kerala Congress (M) chairman KM Mani as Finance Minister.

Mani has been accused in a bribery case involving bar owners, and was not allowed by the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) to present a full budget in the House.

Mani claims to have read out the operative parts and tabled associated papers in the House that witnessed pandemonium of a kind not witnessed in the country’s parliamentary democracy.

George’s demand for his resignation comes at a time when the House is indefinitely adjourned after failed attempts to call it to order a second time.

The Opposition has said it will disrupt public functions attended by Mani and challenge the free movement of his cavalcade across the State.

Slender majority

Chandy, who leads a government with the slenderest of majorities, said here that he has received a letter from Mani seeking the removal of party nominee George from the post of Chief Whip.

George rubbished this, saying Mani does not have the right to ask for his removal since it was the UDF which had made him the Chief Whip in the first place.

He recalled that at the time of forming government, Mani had sought for his nine-member-strong party the post of two Ministers and a Deputy Speaker.

On being asked to accept the post of Deputy Speaker, George had refused, saying he would rather sit as an MLA in the House.

But UDF leaders met separately and decided to make him the Chief Whip, considering his long stint in electoral politics, contributions in the run-up to and post elections in 2011.

“If Mani thinks he can smoke me out of the coalition, he’s badly mistaken,” George thundered to newspersons after meeting the Chief Minister on Friday at the latter’s request.

Things having been brought to such a pass, he would not head back to Mani’s party and would rather revive his Kerala Congress (Secular) and stay as Chief Whip till the UDF leaders meet and decide otherwise.

George insisted that he holds Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Industries Minister, Muslim League strongman and interlocutor PK Kunhalikkutty in high regard.

Closing ranks

Meanwhile, the UDF is closing ranks to ensure that these developments do not affect its prospects in the upcoming by-election to the Aruvikkara constituency, a seat held by late speaker G Karthikeyan.

A leader of the numerically strong Nadar community along with DHRM, a Dalit outfit, has warned that the UDF will pay a political price for harming George, who is a known sympathiser of their cause.

Published on March 27, 2015
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